by Mike Ratliff
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” (Matthew 10:26 ESV)
Despite what “some” say in referring to the seeker-sensitive church model as the “new paradigm” that it is the new mainstream Church in the world, God has not changed. The Church remains the body of Christ and those who belong to it came to be there the exact same way believers have since its inception. Oh, the seeker-sensitive church is a paradigm all right, and it may indeed have displaced many orthodox churches throughout the world, but all they have really done is create a pseudo-church that is friends with the world. Its apologists have attempted to blend Christianity with existentialism and humanism not understanding that these human philosophies are diametrically opposed to our faith across the board.
Genuine Christianity is made up of absolutes. It is the truth and that truth is not open to conjecture or opinion. On the other hand, existentialism and humanism have at their core that everything is relative and, therefore, there are no absolutes. One of the reasons the visible Church in our time was such easy pickings for the seeker-sensitive paradigm is that it had already largely succumbed to existentialism and humanism. Pastors and church leaders who had become disillusioned by the structure and performance of their churches facilitated the takeover. It is interesting that those in this ‘mindset’ were reacting to a lack of church growth that was brought about by their own lack obedience to their calling. They were already compromised by their not preaching the Word, the whole Gospel, the Law, Sin, Death, and the Cross. They were not being obedient with Church Discipline. They were already filling their pews with questionable converts. They had progressed so far down this path that their spiritual blindness was nearly complete. Therefore, the social gospel looked like the perfect answer for their lackluster churches.
One of the motivating factors for these leaders to not be obedient to their calling is fear. If they obeyed the Lord in all they did, they could divide their congregations. This is fear of men my brethren. The Bible is very clear that we are not to fear men, but obey God in all we do. Let us look at our Lord’s counsel to His Apostles just before sending them out on their first evangelical push.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:16-23 ESV)
God’s ways are not man’s ways. Our Lord sends us out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Sheep are helpless when wolves attack. They cannot fight back and wolves are cunning. However, His counsel to all He sends out is to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. The wolves all around us are our enemy’s agents of persecution. The Church that was picked off by the seeker-sensitive paradigm was easy pickings because it was neither wise as serpents nor as innocent as doves. No, instead it was foolish, worldly, and disobedient. It walked in fear of men and, therefore, became compromised and corrupt. They refused to say or do anything in the fear that someone may become offended.
On the other hand, those who obey our Lord in all they do and refuse to be compromised by the ways of the world can do this because they know the truth and, therefore, know what is not the truth. They are wise as serpents. However, they do not operate according to the ways of the world, they are as innocent as doves. They cause no harm to anyone. They are not predators. However, the pseudo-church, the compromised church, is the opposite. They are the ones who use the tactics of the world to silence those who refuse to back away from the truth. They threaten lawsuits. They seek to trip them up through entrapment tactics. I find it very eye-opening observing how they gloat over their supposed victories of logic manipulation and empty verbiage. We must not partake of this in any way my brethren for this is akin to casting pearls before swine and giving what is holy to dogs. Do not attempt to make friends amongst them for they will eventually turn on you. Listen to the Spirit.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” (Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)
Think of how our Lord was treated by the religious leaders of His day. However, He is telling us to expect the same thing. If we are not then we have compromised. Here is Charles Spurgeon’s take on this passage.
No one will dispute this statement, for it would be unseemly for the servant to be exalted above his Master. When our Lord was on earth, what was the treatment He received? Were His claims acknowledged, His instructions followed, His perfections worshipped, by those whom He came to bless? No; “He was despised and rejected of men.” Outside the camp was His place: cross-bearing was His occupation. Did the world yield Him solace and rest? “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” This inhospitable country afforded Him no shelter: it cast Him out and crucified Him. Such-if you are a follower of Jesus, and maintain a consistent, Christ-like walk and conversation-you must expect to be the lot of that part of your spiritual life which, in its outward development, comes under the observation of men. They will treat it as they treated the Saviour-they will despise it. Dream not that worldlings will admire you, or that the more holy and the more Christ-like you are, the more peaceably people will act towards you. They prized not the polished gem, how should they value the jewel in the rough? “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?” If we were more like Christ, we should be more hated by His enemies. It were a sad dishonour to a child of God to be the world’s favourite. It is a very ill omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout “Well done” to the Christian man. He may begin to look to his character, and wonder whether he has not been doing wrong, when the unrighteous give him their approbation. Let us be true to our Master, and have no friendship with a blind and base world which scorns and rejects Him. Far be it from us to seek a crown of honour where our Lord found a coronet of thorn. – C.H. Spurgeon.
Therefore, we will stand before our Lord and give an account soon. Are we going to have to confess that we feared men and so could not obey Him by standing firm? I do not want to have to make that confession. How about you?
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:26-33 ESV)
The Church in the West has lost sight of this for the most part. The Church in developing countries has not been contaminated by this fear of man yet. They are sending out missionaries all over the world. They refuse to compromise. They stand firm and many pay heavily for it. However, they will receive a crown that those who cower in fear of men can only envision. Therefore, we must get serious about this walk. I am actually looking forward to what is coming because the Church will be clarified and cleansed. The milquetoast Christians will fall away. We may suffer persecution for standing firm, but in this, our Lord will be glorified and His Kingdom will be extended. Perhaps we can hasten the day when our Lord will return in the fulfillment of His Kingdom in great glory. I pray for that day to be soon. Come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria.